Open towards love
LLEWELLYN VAUGHAN-LEE explores love in the time of coronavirus, and how those of us with a spiritual practice can turn the results into action, bringing care and compassion into our communities.
Suddenly we are all thrown together into a time of anxiety, fear for the health of family, friends, loved ones and neighbors, and for the economic distress caused by this pandemic. While some countries have a strong safety net, many live pay-check to pay-check, or even day-to-day, the rickshaw driver without customers having nothing to feed his family. This is the reality of the global crisis we are all encountering. It is also a testing time for those of us who are fortunate to be rooted in a spiritual practice, faced with the simple opportunity to open towards love rather than contract into fear.
There is a story that when the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan were sweeping across Central Asia, destroying cities, massacring the population, fearful dervishes ran to the great mystic Shams, the teacher of Rumi, shouting, “The Mongols are coming, the Mongols are coming!” He calmly replied, “I have been teaching you to be a duck, now swim.” For those of us drawn to the path of love, now is the opportunity to put our practice into action, to bring care and compassion into our communities, rather than being caught in the collective patterns of anxiety or panic that are swirling around us. This pandemic has taught us that we are all one, no one is separate, no countries or borders can limit the spread of the virus. Rather we have to respond from a place of shared humanity, helping and supporting each other.
Love and care – care for each other,
care for the Earth – are the simplest
and most valuable human qualities.
And love belongs to oneness.
The most common sense response to the virus has been to self-isolate, to close everything except essential services. Isolation is the oldest and most tested way to prevent the spread of a disease. In the Middle Ages in Europe whole cities were quarantined to prevent the spread of the plague. It is vital that as far as possible we practice social distancing. But rather than any sense of isolation is the knowing that we are all in this together, that it is part of our shared journey together with each other and with the Earth. And the power of our love can serve as a balance to the darkness of fear, to the forces that can so easily contract us.
And in the strength of our love and our shared journey we can use this crisis as an opportunity, a moment to step back from the daily demands, the busyness of our outer life. With so many stores and businesses closed, we experience our life reduced to what is essential, and when this pandemic is over, can we continue with a voluntary simplicity, no longer caught in the addictions of consumerism? We can recognize that the Earth is sending us a message, that it is out of balance and needs our love and care and attention. We are all part of one interdependent living being, ancient beyond our understanding.
We can no longer afford to pollute it with our ceaseless desires, filling the air with carbon emissions, the oceans with plastic.
If there is a light in this present crisis, it is in the air pollution plunging across China; ducks, fish, and clear waters returning to the canals of Venice. And possibly the shock of the pandemic will warn us of the danger of denying science, of waiting until it is too late. Maybe we can finally recognize that the imbalance of the Earth can and will affect us all, suddenly, unexpectedly.
Love and care – care for each other, care for the Earth – are the simplest and most valuable human qualities. And love belongs to oneness. We know this in our human relationships, how love draws us closer, and in its most intimate moments we can experience physical union with another. It can also awaken us to the awareness that we are one human family, and on the deepest level love can reconnect us with our essential unity with all life, with the Earth herself.
Love will remind us that we are a part of life – that we belong to each other and to this living, suffering planet. We just need to say “yes” to this mystery within our own hearts, to open to the link of love that unites us all, that is woven into the web of life. Only from this place of living oneness can we support each other in this crisis and then walk into a future that recognizes, feels, the sacred nature of all that exists, and so help to bring our world back into balance. We can emerge from this pandemic with a deeper sense of our shared humanity and our love for our common home, its mystery and wonder. Or we can remain stranded on the desolate shores of materialism, as in a supermarket where the shelves are increasingly empty.
Article by LLEWELLYN VAUGHAN-LEE
Illustrations by JASMEE RATHOD
August 30, 2020
August 30, 2020
August 30, 2020